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2013 Breeders' Cup Highlights: Beholder's Distaff

Beholder Distaff 615 X 400
Photo: Don August


Please enjoy the third installment of my “2013 Breeders’ Cup Highlights” series, which features the greatest personal moments of my Breeders’ Cup experience.

Highlight Three: The Distaff

The Monday before the thirtieth Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I), I spoke to Fred Mitchell, whose family’s Clarkland Farm bred, raised, and sold Beholder – one of the contenders in the star-studded Distaff. As I listened to him speak proudly of the three-year-old filly, telling stories about the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) champion, I could not think of a more deserving Distaff victress.

When asked what a victory by Beholder in the Distaff would mean to Mitchell and his family, he responded with a laugh, “$60,000.”

But on a more serious note, he stated, “It would mean a lot, because Leslie’s Lady’s (the dam of Beholder) offspring. . . will be worth a lot of money at the sales. That just makes it that much more enjoyable.”

For Mitchell, Beholder’s success is “something that you dream of – that you think will never happen to you. It’s just a feeling that’s hard to explain to anybody. It’s what we work for.”

But Beholder had a tough task to overcome in the Distaff. Although the race only drew a small field of six fillies and mares, it was among the most competitive of the 2013 championships. Beholder was among the three headliners in the Distaff, but certainly the most overlooked of the trio. Most attention was on the two-time defending champion, Royal Delta, and the four-time grade one-winning three-year-old Princess of Sylmar.

Aboard Beholder was Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who was riding in the Breeders’ Cup for the first time since 2005 and searching for his first Breeders’ Cup victory since 2000. The now 50-year-old rider had come out of retirement in January and after a successful racing season that included a win in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), a Breeders’ Cup victory would serve as the perfect exclamation point for one of the greatest comebacks of all-time.

Tracking the leaders on the outside after breaking cleanly from the gate, Beholder appeared relaxed with Stevens aboard as the Distaff field charged into the backstretch after a 22.78-second first quarter. Racing just behind Royal Delta and to the champion’s outside, Beholder was just over a length behind the leader – Authenticity – down the backstretch.

As the fillies and mares approached the far turn, Royal Delta began to weaken, allowing Beholder to seize a position in second as she set her sights on the lead. Growing even with Authenticity around the bend, Beholder took the lead midway through the curve, holding a clear advantage over her rivals as she galloped into the homestretch with an increasing lead. Her brilliance proved too much for her talented adversaries as she drew away to a breathtaking 4 ¼-length victory – the largest winning margin in the Distaff since Round Pond captured the race in 2006 at Churchill Downs.

As a crowd of more than 35,000 at Santa Anita cheered for Beholder and Gary Stevens as the triumphant pair returned to the front side after the Distaff, everyone at Clarkland Farm was rejoicing more than 2,000 miles away. Once again, Beholder had allowed Clarkland to defy the odds, producing greatness from a small, family-run operation.

“We watched the race together: screaming, crying, laughing and hugging each other,” Katie Mooney of Clarkland Farm stated. “This has been a once in a lifetime experience.”


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Older Comments about 2013 Breeders' Cup Highlights: Beholder's Distaff...

Mary, it was terrific meeting you and reading the posts of your Breeders' Cup experience. When did you find time to do interviews??? LOL. Looking forward to next year.

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About Mary Cage


Mary with champion Classic Empire

Mary Cage has been around horses all her life, having owned, shown, and judged them for as long as she can remember. She began writing her own horse racing blog, Past the Grandstand, in August 2011 and has since been published in America's Horse, American Racehorse and the Appaloosa Journal, as well as with the websites of The Blood-Horse and The Equine Chronicle. She has also had photos published with Paulick Report and Thoroughbred Daily News. In addition, she works as one of the social media coordinators for the Texas Thoroughbred Association and is an intern at WinStar Farm with a client relations and marketing focus, as well as some bloodstock duties.

In her personal horse experience, Mary has been around horses all her life and has won several Appaloosa National Champion and Reserve World Champion titles in the show ring. She has also worked as a hotwalker and groom.

Mary has always aspired to have a career with horses and since her love for horse racing began, she has dreamed of pursuing a career in the Thoroughbred racing industry, possibly as a racing manager or client relations specialist. She is currently attending the University of North Texas, where she is a journalism major with a concentration in advertising and a minor in marketing. With this blog, she hopes to show readers horse racing through the eyes of a young fan and transport you to some of racing's biggest events through her photos and words.

University of Louisville College of Business Equine Program

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